Performance Support

Contextual Help



Top Reasons Why Performance Support Improves Employee Performance

Performance support is one of the most powerful types of training possible. At least we think so.

Often it’s forgotten for more favored types of training such as eLearning or videos. But, it can be just as effective as those, easier to use, cheaper to create, and is all around the best type of training.

Videos and eLearning require a high level of investment. You have to open it, watch through it, and you can’t scan for what you need. On the other hand, performance support is focused, easy to scan, and helps you do a single task quicker than any other type of training.

Performance support is an invaluable tool that helps to improve team performance, close gaps in knowledge, reduce costs, and save time. We will cover the two top reasons performance support will enhance your organization’s performance. You’ll learn about how performance support can be put to the best use.

Performance support is one of the best types of training, both for cost and effectiveness.

You’ll find that it’s an easy way to provide employees instant access to information and task-oriented help when needed. Employees are provided with information through performance support to help them make decisions quickly, correctly, and confidently with reliable, up-to-date information.

And employees don’t have to remember anything to use it.

Because of this, performance support provides quick and easy access to the knowledge and skills needed to perform their job functions effectively.

Performance support helps increase your organization’s performance and reduces training costs. Not by a little, either. It can decrease training costs significantly.

By providing information as a resource when needed rather than wasting their time on things they might use, organizations can save time and money by avoiding lengthy employee training sessions. Think about it: instead of making every employee sit through 30 minutes (or an hour!) of training, they could be given access to 4 job aids that cover the tasks they need to perform.

Then they only need to spend time using it when they do the task, therefore not learning stuff they won’t use. Those job aids will help them through the process, and they’ll learn by doing. It’s a win-win because now 30 minutes of training plus 15 minutes of job aid use might decrease to only 15 minutes of job aid use.

When properly implemented, performance support can be the foundation of an organization’s continuous learning and improvement culture. The best part is that employees will feel more empowered to create quick job aids of their own to encourage knowledge to be shared in the organization.

Your company’s enterprise social network can empower social learning and sharing of performance support and tips.

By providing employees with the necessary information at their fingertips, organizations can ensure that employees are continuously learning and developing their skills. With this approach, employees are empowered to take ownership of their development and contribute to the organization’s overall success.

Sounds like a win to me!

Performance support can also help build trust and loyalty within your organization. Organizations demonstrate that their contributions are valued and appreciated by providing employees with the tools they need to be successful. This instills a sense of trust and respect between the organization and the employee, leading to increased loyalty and motivation.

Performance support shows you care about employees and makes them feel valued.

That’s uncommon in today’s workplace, partly due to a lack of trust and training. Training can work wonders in making employees feel valued.

So, what are the two main reasons for using performance support, and how do they aid in successful performance enhancement?

By uncovering the top reasons, organizations can reap the benefits of performance support and create a more successful, productive working environment.

Before we get into that, though, defining performance support is essential since its definition can sometimes be extremely broad.

What is Performance Support?

Performance support is essential for any organization looking to improve employee performance and achieve better results. It provides employees with the resources they need to excel in their jobs and maximize their workday. While it can be challenging to define performance support, let’s give it a shot.

Okay, maybe I can’t define it in a meaningful sentence, but I can give examples of what it is and isn’t.

Here’s my not-so-meaningful definition: Performance support aids an employee in performing a single task.

Performance support isn’t easy to define narrowly, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable.

That might not be the most helpful definition, but examples might clarify things more.

Here are a few examples of the most common types of performance support and how they help employees perform better.

  • Job aid: They show the steps to perform a task in an orderly way, usually by step. A good example of this is how to create a record for your company’s CRM.
  • Quick reference guide: This is like a simplified job aid, providing quick information for an employee’s job. It could even be paired with a job aid or standalone. For software, it might provide more context into options within software or even a broad overview of the software’s interface.
  • Checklists: This helps employees ensure nothing is missing in a process or things they need for the task.
  • Videos: Yes, I said videos aren’t a good example of performance support, but at the same time, they can be if done well, just not for software tutorials. Short videos based on one task (maybe microlearning?) can sometimes be decent performance support for tasks you need to see.
  • Contextual Help: In-app help, or contextual help, is a way to show employees how to do a single task within an application.
Common Windows Keyboard Shortcuts quick reference guide.
An example of a quick reference guide for common Windows keyboard shortcuts.

Hopefully, you have a better grasp of what performance support is now. If you want to get technical, you could say that everything training is performance support because it helps you perform your job.

That doesn’t exactly cut it, though, since you won’t take training with you while performing your job.

I think the one main defining factor of performance support is that it helps employees perform one task, which they can use while performing the task on the job.

One more bit of housekeeping before we get to the top reasons why performance support improves organization performance.

Benefits of Performance Support

Performance support has many benefits. It’s the most magical type of training you could ever use. It should primarily solution to most training problems.

Let’s look at the major benefits of performance support and you’ll see why it’s an excellent option for training (if you could call it that).

Cheaper Than Dirt

Okay, maybe performance support isn’t cheaper than dirt. It can be quite expensive if you’re looking for software solutions provided in the flow of work. In-app help is a good example of performance support not being dirt cheap. Providing one guide that helps employees through a task can be expensive because of the platform.

Compared to eLearning, most performance support, such as job aids, is cheap. Very cheap. It’s the most affordable type of technical training.

Typically a job aid comprises one to a few pages of steps to perform a task. While it’s not as simple as just slapping it together, it’s a relatively low investment in time compared to other types of training. You could put together a one-task job aid in 8-10 hours.

Of course, there’s more to a job aid than simply slapping it together, and they’re rarely just a one-off (though sometimes they are). You must approach them with a strategy and pair them with other training types or performance support.

Training is necessary for employees to do their job, but it can be expensive and time-consuming. By providing employees with performance support resources such as job aids, quick reference guides, or checklists, organizations can reduce the need for in-person training or time away from the job. That ultimately saves time and money.

Increase Productivity

By providing employees with the resources they need to complete their tasks, organizations can help ensure tasks are completed quickly and effectively. The best part is that if performance support is used, then there’s a better chance a task will be done right the first time.

That’s invaluable when people often look for the quickest way, not the right way. Or, worse, they’re taught by someone who does it wrong, perpetuating ineffective and inaccurate work.

Performance support is a great perpetuator of best-demonstrated practices (BDPs), which we know every organization loves.

It’s also nice that employees can create performance support of their own. As long as the organization supports employees doing this and gives them somewhere to centralize it, employee-generated content is a great way to encourage social learning with a learning culture at its core.


Other forms of training typically try to do too much. While it’s necessary to have context and multiple topics that fit together, it’s not always.

When tasks can be broken down into performance support, that will help employees focus only on what’s important. It’s easy to get stuff done without going down a rabbit hole.

By providing accessible resources, organizations can help employees stay on track and complete their tasks without feeling overwhelmed.

Reduce Errors

Errors suck.

There, I said it. They do!

It can cost an organization time, money, or worse, completely ruin a system and data integrity. By its nature, performance support reduces errors and improves work quality. Accuracy increases if employees don’t have to try to remember everything and can refer to a job aid.

By providing employees with resources such as checklists or quick reference guides, organizations can help ensure that tasks are completed according to company standards or, even better, by the highest performance standards.

Doing It Right

I didn’t know what to call this one, so I’ll just say it helps employees do it right, not as in reducing errors but simply sticking to organization policies and procedures.

It’s easy to put in short notes or fill in the gaps of knowledge that people commonly have with tasks. It’s even possible to link to documents with more context or information, such as company policies.

How cool is that!?

Happy Peppy People

Yes, performance support does create happy employees. Just like with training, when employees feel supported and cared about, they’re typically happier at work, which, in the end, reduces employee turnover.

I Love Lucy GIF - Vitameatavegamin happy peppy people.

Performance support helps employees feel less lost in their jobs.

An organization that cares makes employees feel more confident and motivated in their roles. This can positively affect the overall organization, helping to create a more positive work environment.


Performance support can help organizations achieve peak efficiency by providing employees with the tools to quickly and effectively access the necessary information. It can also help organizations quickly identify inaccuracies and problems, allowing them to make corrections without disrupting operations or making massive overhauls in training.

With performance support, organizations can also quickly and accurately measure key performance indicators to identify areas of improvement.

I’m sure I could keep going, but I’ll save you the time. You can likely see there are tons of benefits to performance support in general and over eLearning or other types of training.

Now for what you came here for! It’s time for me to uncover how performance support increases organizational performance.

The Two Main Ways Performance Support Helps Increase Employee Performance

Performance support is one of the best tools you can use when it comes to improving how employees perform. Hopefully, I already established that pretty well.

However, there are two main ways in which it helps employees learn how to do a task or how to do it more efficiently. It also helps them remember how to do a task they don’t often perform. That’s it.

  • Helps employees perform tasks not performed often.
  • Aids in performing tasks to build into memory over time.

Single-incident learning activities simply aren’t as effective as multiple-incident learning activities. That’s why spaced learning is so powerful and effective.

Perform Uncommon Tasks

The first way performance support helps increase organizational performance is by assisting employees to perform a task they don’t do often. Nobody needs to know 100% how to do every task they do at work all the time. Sometimes a task is only performed every few weeks, months, or less often.

Why would you make somebody learn about something performed rarely in an eLearning course?

You shouldn’t!

eLearning is the most effective when it covers only what’s often used in a job, and they’ll be using it shortly after learning it. Training will be more focused and effective if you only focus on what’s used often. You just have to remember that nothing is important if everything is important.

You’ll increase employees’ productivity by helping employees focus on the most important work and having tools available for things they don’t need to know. Not only that, but they won’t be wasting resources on memorizing stuff they don’t need to memorize.

Perform Until Memorized

Not everything needs to be memorized immediately, nor can it be. You’re mistaken if you expect someone to take an eLearning course and come out knowing everything. Nobody can remember everything. They’ll likely come out with bits and pieces of information but need some assistance.

That’s where performance support comes in handy. If they had to take an eLearning course, performance support would fill the memory gap until it can move into long-term memory.

Nobody needs to memorize anything intentionally. Memorization comes when necessary, automatically with repetition.

Even if a course isn’t taken, performance support helps slowly move a task into long-term memory when performed close enough together. There are circumstances when performance support may only be used once, but it can also be used weekly. The first 3-4 times the job aid might have been needed, but slowly, it becomes muscle memory.

This repetition of the task at regular or semi-regular intervals (spaced learning) leads to learning. It also aids cognitive load because nobody’s brain can hold too much information.

When information is forgotten, employees aren’t very efficient. With the right tools (performance support) available, they can do their work better and improve performance.

How to Implement Performance Support

Implementing performance support is essential for organizations that wish to improve their performance and help employees be more productive. To make the most out of performance support, it’s important to find the right type of support and implement it in the best way possible.

Find The Right Type

The first step in implementing performance support is identifying the correct type of support. Performance support can take many forms depending on the organization’s goals, such as self-help materials, job aids, quick reference guides, checklists, or something else entirely.

It could even be high-tech (in-app help) or low-tech (a piece of paper).

To make the right decision, organizations should consider their objectives and the skills and knowledge of their employees. For example, a job aid might be the best option if an organization wants to quickly teach employees how to complete a focused and simple task with the right process.

Lay Out Steps

You may be tempted to jump right into creating content, but don’t make that mistake. Depending on the complexity of the task (and if there are branching options), it sometimes makes more sense to lay out the steps.

That makes it much easier to work with a subject matter expert (SME) to get the content and the flow down before jumping into creation.

If you jump right into creation and get it wrong, you’ll likely have to go back and fix things. It’s easier to lay out the steps on a document with a numbered list first. Keep it simple and don’t go too far too fast.

That’s what we do with our strategy for starting with nothing for courses. It begins with a basic document with nothing on it, and then we progressively build from there.


The next step is to create content. Performance support content should be simple, easy to follow, and always focused on a single task with no distractions. You get brownie points if it’s scannable, too.

Never forget that the goal of performance support is to stick with one task and never vary from that. If you need more tasks, then you can create another document.


All performance support should be implemented in the right way. This includes ensuring it’s easy to find, open, and use. If you create it, they won’t necessarily come. You must ensure employees know about performance support through communications, promotion, or finding it through searches employees are already performing.

If a job aid was created for a task that the help desk was commonly asked for, maybe instead of the help desk fixing the problem, they can educate the employee about the job aid so they can help themselves next time.

It could also be an excellent opportunity for the help desk to let employees know about a knowledge base where they can find solutions to other issues they’re having.


This is like a micro ADDIE process but with more rapid steps. To make sure the performance support is doing its job, it’s important to evaluate the results.

If it was created for specific issues that the help desk received many calls on, maybe review the call logs to see if calls on the issue were reduced. To evaluate more fundamentally, you could even look at the number of downloads or views. While this won’t tell you if it’s working, it will tell you if people need help with the issue.

You could even link to a survey in the performance support to gather feedback on perceived helpfulness.


Content should be regularly updated to ensure it’s up-to-date with the latest process and information. Nothing is worse than employees finding something they think will help them but finding it outdated.

Measurement and Evaluation of Performance Support

Measuring and evaluating the success of performance support on an organization’s performance is crucial for understanding the approach’s effectiveness.

To measure and evaluate the effectiveness of performance support, looking at the organization’s performance metrics is most helpful. This can include customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and efficiency improvements.

It also helps to look at the impact of performance support on employee behaviors and attitudes. For instance, does performance support improve accuracy in performing the specific job?

If you still see employees making the same mistake, you’ll have to go back to the drawing board.

Another important factor to consider when measuring the impact of performance support is how well the system is being used.

  • Is the system being used as intended?
  • Are employees taking advantage of the resources available to them?
  • Are employees actively engaging with the system in the way they’re supposed to?

If performance support doesn’t resolve the issue, maybe your needs analysis wasn’t on target, and it’s not a training issue at all. Perhaps it’s a motivation issue, or employees are not caring because nobody else cares, and management doesn’t care to fix things.

Performance support doesn’t support performance unless it’s measured in some way.

Organizations also need to consider the impact of performance support on productivity. Can employees complete tasks more quickly and efficiently with the help of performance support tools? Are they able to achieve better results? Are they able to meet goals faster?

It’s always helpful if you can show the cost-effectiveness of performance support. What is the cost vs benefit? Are the costs associated with the performance support justified by the improvements in performance?

This could be a heck yes if something is going severely wrong and must be fixed. Or it might be more complex than that.

By measuring and evaluating the success of performance support, organizations can better understand how it impacts the organization’s performance.

Wrap Up

Performance support is an essential tool for improving employee performance. It provides employees the resources to complete tasks quickly and efficiently without needing long training sessions or memorization.

By giving employees access to the right kind of support, organizations can minimize time spent on training and maximize time spent on work. Beyond the tangible benefits, there are two key ways performance support increases employee performance:

  • It helps employees perform uncommon tasks accurately and easily.
  • It also helps employees memorize more common tasks over time with spaced repetition.

A good organization has performance support available for employees or lets them create and distribute it themselves.

Employees supported with the right resources are more productive and engaged with their work. With more easily accessible information, employees can quickly and easily find answers to their questions, allowing them to do their jobs faster and more accurately.

Performance support isn’t a replacement for formal training but a great supplement. Training still has an important place when it comes to new employees or complex new systems.

If you’d like input on whether your next project would benefit from formal training or performance support, our instructional design consultants would be happy to help. Schedule a free consultation and we’ll work with you to determine the best solution.

We can help you create effective performance support or work with you to design the best training program for the goal.

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